ELEA is an episodic sci-fi, head trip, adventure, walking sim. ELEA is developed by Kyodai LTD and published by SOEDESCO Publishing. ELEA is explained by the creators as “By putting the character up against events and phenomena which are beyond human grasp, the game aims to defy the conventional notions of personal accountability, choice and meaning of life. It is a story about our fragility as a species, about finding solace through surrender.” Does it hold up to this TL;DR…..no. But read on and allow me to explain.
ELEA places you as “Long ass name here i cant remember right now”. You have journeyed into space to find your husband Ethan who has apparently disappeared along with the rest of the crew on the space ship “SPACESHIP NAME!”. Ethan was a head scientist looking at a new earth like planet. Earth has been plagued by some type of virus,bad air, too much candy, and it turns kids into psychopaths. The only known cure is to turn them into brainless zombies. This you learn in the first few seconds of the game as it intros you to the story. Then from there it throws you into a head trip of semi-puzzle solving to advance into your memory and continue the plot. However, between the falling through certain areas (I.E. actually falling through a level and not being able to see what was going on) and the completely weird moments, ELEA feels like it is trying hard to push self discovery without realizing there needs to still be some type of content for the player to enjoy. I felt stuck in most areas of the game and confused by what was expected of me.
A particular level that was frustrating had us starting out at the ocean and watching killers whales roll off a platform. I stood in this area for ten minutes with no directions and clicked and explore everything inch that was available. I got so frustrated at waiting I looked through forums to find most other players had this issue and that the event that lets you escape the area is time gated. This was one of the most disheartening things to see. It would be different if there was actually interactivity in the level but besides the almost bland ocean and empty room there is nothing. After leaving the game and coming back I brought one of my friends along to try out the game. He is a huge fan of indie games that make you think and are different then your typical game. Even with his experience he asked what the hell ELEA was about. If it wasn’t for the steam store summary I would be very confused about the events taking place.
ELEA is a walking, linear, puzzle game. The statement being you are discovering the mind of “Long ass name here”and the deeper meaning to life. This is a haughty goal and feels like more focus was given to trying to create questions for the player to think and reflect on. Which sounds great but if you have mediocre game play it drags you out of any immersion you might have. ELEA big focus is its psychedelic moments which where not for me but where still very beautiful when they happen.
ELEA utilizes Unreal Engine 4 and it is showcased during the opening psychedelic sequences, however, some parts of the game feel dialed back from everything else. It is both beautiful and bland during in game and during scenes. I played the game both off and on stream an found either way there is some fps drops at certain points especially when moving the camera. I did mess with some of the visual settings and did not find any respite from the frame drops. I feel like there are some areas that really feel unfinished and a lot of work went into other scenes that feel unnecessary and break the immersion for you. However, some of the lighting feels spectacular and there is definitely a solid base that just needs more built upon it.
In game audio is a middle ground for me. I love good voice acting and hearing emotions not seen portrayed through small tremors in a voice. Elea herself is voiced beautifully and responds in a way that feels natural. Some of the other voices drop off though and seem to be done from various stages of professionalism. At times it feels like certain voice actor was bored while reading and was just getting the words out. The music is natural and blends into the scenes nicely but otherwise is just your normal background music.
Currently ELEA is listed as episodic. So there is a planed future for it. I feel that if some of the bugs are not fixed the game may not live long enough to support other episodes. There is a cool story in place but it gets swallowed whole by almost no narrative and excuses to add deeper meaning where none is needed. If they continue as they are I do not see ELEA lasting for much longer and as liner as the it is their isn’t much reason for replay.
If you want a indie, walker, puzzle, head trip game then ELEA is for you but I would still suggest waiting to get it on sale. I hope that the developers will listen to reviews and the community because they might have a diamond in the rough, but it is very very rough. I expected something bigger but still hope that their might be more progress in the future.
Disclaimer: we received a game code to carry out this review.